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A federal judge said Thursday that former President Donald Trump can be deposed as part of a pair of lawsuits filed by two ex-FBI employees.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said lawyers for the pair, former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, could ask Trump questions about limited topics for a set amount of time. Strzok and Page were subject to years of public criticism by the former president after text messages between the two were released in which they disparaged Trump and said they were worried he’d win the presidency.
Strzok was fired from the FBI amid a political firestorm, and Page resigned soon after. Both claim they were targeted for political retribution; Strzok is suing to be reinstated and for backpay, and Page has sued saying the release of the texts violated federal privacy laws.
“The Court authorized the plaintiffs to conduct depositions of each witness that do not exceed two hours and are limited to the narrow set of topics specified,” Jackson ruled Thursday after a closed-door hearing at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The order also applies to current FBI Director Christopher Wray. It’s unclear if the depositions will move forward as Berman’s order allows the White House a month to determine if the Justice Department will invoke executive privilege over Trump’s testimony.
Politico reported the judge also left room for Trump to argue that he has the right to invoke privilege himself as a former president.
The ruling comes after attorneys for Strzok and Page said they had interviewed a host of lower-ranking officials and sources related to the lawsuit and needed further information from Trump and Wray, The Washington Post notes. The newspaper also reported that a recent interview Trump gave to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, in which he bragged about firing the pair and other officials, may have influenced the judge’s decision.
“If I didn’t fire Comey, and if I didn’t fire McCabe and Strzok and Page and all of that scum that was in there, you would have had, they were trying to do an overthrow,” the former president said on “The Hugh Hewitt Show” earlier this month.
The FBI and Justice Department have maintained that Strzok’s firing was not political.